Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
When I was younger, I can remember times when fear could actually keep me from doing something. There was a summer when I was away from my parents, staying at my grandparents’ home, and I was told some very scary stories involving basements. My fear was so great I would avoid any prospect of going into a basement, any basement. I just couldn’t set aside my fear. I was firmly in its grip.
Today, fear is something we are met with every day, sometimes several times a day. Everywhere we turn, whether we’re listening to the news, reading articles on the web or in the paper, engaged in conversations with friends, family members, co-workers, we meet this emotion head-on. It’s ever present and rarely far from us. Just like my personal experience, fear can consume us and even shut us down if we let it, causing us to be paralyzed with fear. More than likely, as you’re reading this, thoughts surrounding fear begin to come to mind.
As believers, we read stories of Christians in the world being persecuted for their faith, losing their places of worship, and even losing their lives. These Christians find themselves in a similar emotional place as those believers we read about in Smyrna. These ancient Christians were being persecuted, and sometimes killed, for their faith. In their case, they received word from Jesus “fear not,” even in death. Jesus knew what they were experiencing, and also knew it would get worse. But, there’s also a hint that it wouldn’t last forever.
In reading and studying the scriptures, we find this close presence of fear isn’t a new thing. It’s been this way since Adam and Eve first realized their actions altered dramatically the relationship they enjoyed with God. In reading a portion of the words of Jesus to the Christians in Smyrna, try to see things as they would, or perhaps even envision yourself as a persecuted Christian today.
10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10
- Find three other scripture references where God stresses not having fear and consider the contextual circumstances. Are they similar to this context?
- Does this call to not fear seem applicable to those who suffer persecution today? Why or why not?
- How can you use these words in your own life to stimulate you to a lack of fear and experience peace?
By Rich Obrecht